My Contributions to the Learning Community this Semester
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In order to reflect on my contribution to the learning community this semester, I’d like to talk about the extent of my presence throughout the community. I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent here, so I apologise for this, but the detour IS relevant!
One of the most important roles a person can play in building strong online learning communities, I believe, is to acknowledge and respond to as many contributors as possible, and not just communicate actively with a chosen few. If we were all to do the latter, the community would be disjointed, operating in, to steal a metaphor, ‘siloed’ sub-communities. At the end of last semester, after reflecting upon my online involvement in IFN612, which had a connect element through blog posts, I saw I was guilty of limiting my comments mainly to the posts of the few members I was very familiar with, despite there being over 60 students in the class. As such, I saw that my ‘connect’ behaviour was not that conducive to building a tight learning community. This semester, I vowed to take a different approach- regardless of who I met with regularly or chose to work with on assignments, I would diversify my interactions beyond these individuals in the online learning community.
I think that I did a much better job of it this semester, by exploring and reacting to the blog posts of a greater number of students than I did in 612. Another thing I decided to do was to aim for quality, not quantity in regards to my comments. I know that I definitely made more than the minimum average requirement of two comments per week, but am also aware that there were community members who commented much more than me. I personally prefer to receive two comments that really explore, integrate or resolve aspects of my post, than to receive 10 or more of the, “Great post. I agree with your thoughts on ‘X'” type. So, I made sure that I researched into and critically explored/anlaysed one or more of the issues raised in the students’ blogs I chose to comment on. My personal opinion was expressed and supported by research and examples, when appropriate. Many community members, in my opinion, excelled in having both high quantity and quality comments. Although I was not as active as some, I am still satisfied with both the quantity and quality of my comments and my presence, in a holistic sense, in the community.
A Tweet About Twitter
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I was quite anxious about using Twitter for an hour of intensive academic discussion, having not used it for any purpose. However, I was also intrigued and excited about my compulsory entry into the Twittersphere. On a cognitive level, I had initially hoped to take on many roles- triggerer, explorer, integrator and resolver, during our Twitter chats but often I threw out a tweet that I thought would trigger some response, but got none. I found this a little disappointing because I did prepare well for the chats, yet often felt like I was desperately trying to be included in side-line discussions with little success. I have put this down to one or both of two things: my tweets were not as worthy of reaction as I thought they were, and/or my internet and TweetDeck often lagged throughout the chats. My ego aside, I found the Twitter chats both a good tool for learning/communication and a good platform for empowering student voice. There was a lot of healthy disagreement generated, different perspectives were given, tweeters were given much food for thought. Connecting via the Twitter chats and having them storified for later referral really widened our learning opportunities beyond the set readings and coursework materials. (Synopsis- I enjoyed and found value in the Twitter chatting- I just need to be more critical and engaging when it comes to my tweets, sign up for NBN and switch from TweetDeck to Twitter Raw!!)
I have been active outside of 614 chats, mainly following two accounts I added to my TweetDeck: @ (SLQ) and and @ (ALIA). However, I must be up front in revealing that doing this is a requirement for a reflection in my e-portfolio! Nonetheless, following both sets of tweets has been very useful from the perspective of an individual joining the profession. I will, post e-portfolio submission, definitely continue to follow both accounts .
The good news is that I now understand Twitter and its features well enough to not equate having a Twitter account to being bombarded daily by a squawking flock of twitter birds! I found some great advice from an article in PC World heralding Twitter’s list feature as the new best friend in social media because it forces Twitter uses to sort through their followers and categorize them. And the best thing: ‘the list feature permits you to make private lists, and these private lists are where you will corral the Twitter streams you find annoying, overly voluminous, or boring.’ This is just what I did and by omitting the lists that I didn’t want to see, my feelings about Twitter became far more positive.
I felt like I had come a long way in a short time when I was able to say to a casual librarian at Logan Central Library, new to Twitter, who only wanted to follow ALIA’s twitter account and not be bombarded with Twitter spam, “Heh, I can help you with that”! Four months ago, I never imagined I would be coming to anyone’s assistance regarding Twitter.
Part 3: Your learning in the unit
In the past, libraries were essentially buildings that housed sources of information, were run by library professionals who assisted patrons in finding items that met their information need, and were dedicated to quiet reading or study. The evolution of this ‘library of the past’ into today’s library, a dynamic “growing organism”, is more remarkable than the father of library science , Ranganathan himself, could have ever expected. This is what I have come to understand at a deeper level from completing this unit. I had a basic knowledge of how libraries were involved in serving a variety of community needs beyond those associated with information seeking, but had no idea about the extent of the diversity of products, programs and services provided by both community and academic libraries.
Related to this, is my key take-away that, if a community need is not being met, libraries often take on the role to create an innovative product, program or service to meet that need and if the service is beyond the current scope of a library’s resources, the library can provide spaces for innovation. As such, I have come to realise what an exciting area I’ve decided to work in. Having completed an assignment on a grant application will be highly valuable given that I may see an opportunity for innovation in a library setting and am now equipped with the knowledge and skills to facilitate bringing my idea to life.
The quality of my work
The work I submitted in the unit is a good reflection of my potential. There were concerns outside of my studies this semester that impacted on my work to some extent, but what I have produced is not that much ‘below par’ for me. I think my blogs posts, the EOI and the Grant Application were very well done. I was fortunate to have worked with Sharee, who had already had an EOI and grant application approved. Her experience obviously made my job easier but I was still able to make valuable contributions to these assessment tasks.
I understand that my Twitter chatting ability could be better. This may be a weak analogy, but a good Twitter chatterer I likened to a good debater, something I have never been. You can prepare materials and arguments relevant to your opinion but your ability to brainstorm ideas quickly in response to others’ claims and respond critically on the spur of the moment, cannot be prepared. So, like debating, shooting back relevant, astute comments is instinctive for some but for others, like me, not. This is something about myself that I just have to accept.
Regarding my blog posts, they ‘triggered’ a good number of comments and these comments were very complimentary regarding the content of my posts. In this sense, as well as the fact that I attended and was an active participant at all lectures and in all chats, I feel that I added value to the learning community and hope that others felt so too.